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The Phrase "Traditional Midwifery" - negative?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I've come to understand "traditional midwifery" as:

  • woman-centered & family-centered care (always "informed choice" without pressure)
  • focus on wellness,such as nutrition & state of mind
  • the belief that pregnancy & birth are normal physiological processes
  • pregnancy & birth require only minimal 'monitoring' and NO intervention unless cause arises

That sounds fantastic to me! (This is how my HB MW practices.)

 

But "traditional" could easily be interpreted to mean "old-fashioned." Not so at all! My MW keeps up with the latest science - even much more so than many of her hospital-based counterparts! She has plenty of modern medical equipment to use when and as needed.

 

So wouldn't it be better to not use the term "traditional" when we already know people are out there thinking MWs just burn incense & chant around the mama? rolleyes.gif

 

Just a thought.

post #2 of 22

Honestly, I've never liked the term.   In my area, a "traditional" mw is simply a mw who practices without a license or certification (e.g. from NARM), and whose training can be whatever she wants it to be.  CPMs are legal and licensed here, so what would that make my  licensed CPM?  Non-traditional?  headscratch.gif 

 

Also, MWs of both stripes could claim to adhere to all of your bullet points.  I suppose that "traditional" may be considered pejorative if whoever says it looks down on unlicensed and non-certified midwifery. 

post #3 of 22

I've never really heard the term. I tend to assume most midwives operate within a fairly holistic framework and are more open to alternative therapies than OBs, because in New Zealand, they generally are. "Traditional" seems kind of redundant.

post #4 of 22

"Traditional midwife" to me has always seemed like a nice way of saying "not professionally trained."  So I suppose it depends on whether you find that negative, or not.  For me, I do, but obviously there are many women here who don't want someone that has been professionally trained, for a variety of reasons, who would view the term as positive.

post #5 of 22

I think it means direct entry midwife who trained mostly through apprenticeship, not a school, and likely isn't certified. IMO every care provider needs to be felt out for competence, I wouldn't dismiss a traditional midwife automatically.

post #6 of 22

I think of it more as what was done in the past.  I would not associate it with direct-entry midwives, personally, but I also can't see myself saying that my midwife practiced "traditional midwifery".  But then, everyone I know who had a midwife had a CNM or Licensed Midwife and most people who didn't had an OB, so it doesn't come up much.

post #7 of 22

To me, traditional midwife would definitely connote "not professionally trained." Lay midwife has a similar connotation to me. If the midwife has certification, I'd rather make that clear.

I was talking to a nurse midwife who had only practiced in hospitals -- we're in a class together. I mentioned I had a homebirth, and her first question was if I used a "lay midwife". I gave her kind of a funny look and told her, "No, I used a CPM." Texas has liscened its midwives for ages, not like they're illegal or alegal here. We talked about it a little more and she volunteered that she believed in the homebirth model, but it was still kind of a weird moment.

post #8 of 22
To me, traditional midwife would be on the level of lay midwife or CPM. I would not see it as indicating 'untrained' or 'unlicensed', but rather in opposition to CNM or other perhaps more medicalized branches of midwifery (like the midwifery system in the UK which is primarily although not exclusively hospital-based).

I don't see it as a negative term. Midwifery has a great history.
post #9 of 22
Probably just using the term midwife would be the least divisive , traditional midwife can mean anything from uneducated to someone who is educated but sees herself as someone who serves her community in a traditional way...
post #10 of 22

I dunno.  In some online circles there is a differentiation between 'regular' midwifery and medicalized midwifery by calling the overly medical midwives "medwives".

post #11 of 22

This has been interesting for me....I've been reconsidering my own professional title for much of this past year.  I like Traditional Midwife in some ways; and yes, I did use it to distinguish myself from the more medical types of mws.  But I'm not really happy with that title.  I think I'm traditional in many ways--but certainly informed by modern science, and driven to practice with evidence whereas in some cases the birth traditions of the past were fairly superstitious/symbolic rather than evidence based.  Then again, in a certain way I see even our so-called science as just another set of superstitions!

 

And sometimes I don't want to have 'midwife' in my title at all....so much politics around the word, you know....I just wanna be 'with woman/wise woman' innocent.gif

post #12 of 22

To me it is a negative term. When I hear "traditional midwife" I think about someone who bases their practice on tradition rather than education without regards to outcome, simply because others before her did it that way and it is part of cultural tradition. Like a midwife in third world country pushing on mothers abdomen ho get baby out, putting dung on newborn's belly, etc. Of course traditions have a significant part of everyone's culture but sometimes they are based on superstition and could be outright dangerous and following them instead of facts is not something that I think as of neutral or positive.

post #13 of 22

To me "traditional midwife" means a midwife that's probably less hands-on, more willing to let birth happen and isn't as drawn to managing every aspect of the pregnancy and birthing process. IMO the birth process hasn't changed much over the centuries. What's change is how people view, approach and manage it. So a traditional midwife to me is one that can respect the natural process of pregnancy and birth as opposed to the more medicalized midwife that is basically an OB in a midwife's clothing. I don't necessarily see it as meaning less trained/educated or even licensed/unlicensed. It's a philosophy. It's also the philosophy I look for in a midwife so it's not negative to me.

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lexapurple View Post

To me it is a negative term. When I hear "traditional midwife" I think about someone who bases their practice on tradition rather than education without regards to outcome, simply because others before her did it that way and it is part of cultural tradition. Like a midwife in third world country pushing on mothers abdomen ho get baby out, putting dung on newborn's belly, etc. Of course traditions have a significant part of everyone's culture but sometimes they are based on superstition and could be outright dangerous and following them instead of facts is not something that I think as of neutral or positive.

This.

post #15 of 22

"traditional midwife" also means uncertified in my state (as opposed to "certified midwife")

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
And sometimes I don't want to have 'midwife' in my title at all....so much politics around the word, you know....I just wanna be 'with woman/wise woman' innocent.gif


:D "WomanWise" is actually the name of my MW's business! She even has a beautiful logo of a woman sitting cross-legged, with her arms cradling the belly area - which looks like a beautiful sea-shell. She sells baby T-shirts that say "Born at home" with the logo. Can't wait to buy one -- AFTER I have my HB, ha, maybe that's a little superstition on my part, but it would hurt to already own the shirt if I had to transfer, so I won't make the purchase in advance. I'll have to remember to ask her to bring one along to my 24-hour in-home PP visit.

 

As I said, to me, "traditional midwifery" is a very positive thing and clearly connotes the difference between the medical model. I would imagine many other women who are "in the know" about how medicalized birth is a bad thing might also be aware of the fact that "traditional midwifery" usually means a lot of good things. The problem is just that those who are not "in the know" about it might - again - hear the phrase & picture the incense burning type of nonsense. Which is why I'm thinking it's better avoided.

 

But I daresay I spend way too much time thinking about "selling" mainstream people on the more natural model. It absolutely infuriates and saddens me how modern American maternity care abuses women & babies and I wish everyone KNEW THE TRUTH. :( So anything that might act as a barrier to the spreading of the truth - such as terms that might reinforce a prevailing belief that all midwives are incapable of using modern medicine to manage emergencies- strikes me as a bad thing.

post #17 of 22

I am apprenticing with a traditional midwife, and will gladly call myself one. While I will be a CPM and will be licensed in a nearby state, to me, it does mean "old ways".

 

I am trained in the old ways. I didn't go the school route. I am not medical in any way in the way I view birth. While I am trained in CPR and neonatal resus, and carry things like oxygen, and pit (or will, I mean)....I will go towards herbs and homeopathy first.

 

Old ways. Trust the mother, trust the baby. Only interfere if needs be. I love traditional midwifery.

post #18 of 22

Interesting to read this thread because I have been pondering what to call myself a lot so that I can start working on my website.  I am thinking of having traditional midwifery in the name.  I see the word traditional as positive and linked to a more respectful non-medical philosophy.  I feel like claiming the word as positive.  I'm tired of this shift toward medicalized midwifery.  I consider myself educated and intelligent but I am not a medical professional, I'm a midwife.  

 

I also wanted to avoid the whole word midwife for a while due to the politics and the co-optation of it by the medical system.  I finally decided that not only did I want to claim the name back, but that no one would know how to find me if I didn't use the word :-)

post #19 of 22

I've not thought of it as a negative thing.  I personally love the term traditional midwife and will probably call myself just that, even if I do decide to go on and sit for the NARM exam.  I probably will as I've been using their guidelines anyway for my training.  But I do love that licensing is voluntary where I am, and I prefer that we have lots of different kinds of midwives available to women.

 

Kat

post #20 of 22
I would interpret someone advertising herself as a "traditional midwife" to mean not professionally trained, not licensed, probably someone who learned from another midwife, who does things "intuitively" rather than based on medical knowledge and who prioritizes a "folkways' approach rather than evidence-based care. Someone who would practice on the level of a midwife in a village in a developing country. To me, these things would not be a positive.

I do think there are aspects of traditional midwifery that most, if not all, licensed midwives practice and believe in, which is what made that standard of care a good option for me.
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